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Fury

‘Fury’ poses this question – ‘is there anything new to be told about World War 2?’  A fair point as hundreds of movies set during that period attest.  By ‘Fury’s’ conclusion the answer would be no with exceptions.  We all know war is hell and the camaraderie of the soldiers is as expected.  Behind this war-time formula lays a good movie with the imagery more powerful than the human drama.

 

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier (Brad Pitt) grapples every mission with zeal.  His most lethal comes in April 1945 – the dying days of World War Two.  Tasked with leading a final push into Nazi Germany, he commandeers a Sherman tank nicknamed ‘Fury’.  With his five-man crew including Boyd (Shia LaBeouf) and Norman (Logan Lerman), Collier aims to finally defeat his long-time enemies with powerful force.

 

Avoiding any flag-waving jingoism, ‘Fury’ mostly captivates.  The thrust of the drama revolves around the Collier’s crew.  Each has their personal demons and reactions to the atrocities they witness.  Unfortunately their personalities have little time to fully develop.  This fault is due to David Ayer’s unfocussed direction.  Seemingly happy to pause at blood-shed and battle sequences, he never truly draws out any much needed powerful emotions.

 

Ayer’s biggest strength is his handling of visuals.  The depth of the cinematography is amazing and one Ayer utilises to good effect.  From the stark and eerie daytime scenes to the menacing night-time ones, he successfully conjures Nazi Germany’s brutal surrounds.  Aided by some excellently staged action scenes, the feel of being in the heat of war is palatable.  The cast do a fair job despite their one-dimensional roles with Pitt most successful in portraying a dedicated but emotionally wounded soldier.

 

If you’ve seen dozens of war movies, you’ll know what to anticipate.   Despite some intense moments, ‘Fury’ never fully realises the potential of the true story.  Whether any other World War 2 movie can add a new wrinkle to the genre is a question to be left answered for another day.

 

Rating out of 10:  6

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Based on Lawrence Block’s popular book series, ‘A Walk among the Tombstones’ is a solid thriller.  The central character, Matthew Scudder, has previously appeared on screen in 1982’s ‘8 Million Ways to Die’.  Portrayed by Jeff Bridges, the character’s cinematic debut didn’t register with that era’s audience.  Hopefully this second big screen outing set in 1999 will do justice to a potentially long-running franchise. 

 

Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is a former cop turned private eye.  A recovering alcoholic, he constantly searches for challenging cases.  When asked by local drug lord Kenny (Dan Stevens) to find those responsible for the kidnap and murder of his wife, Matthew reluctantly accepts.  Searching for clues, he discovers the kidnappers have previous form with equally deadly consequences.  With danger at every turn, Scudder’s life hangs in the balance as the hunt intensifies.

 

‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ is unafraid in delving into dark spaces.  Exploring ‘evil that men do’, Scudder doggedly survives in a grim world.  His shady past matches the murky dealings of his clients adding to the constant atmosphere of dread.  Whilst the story is occasionally prone to repetitive exposition, Scott Frank’s direction successfully conveys its’ grittiness.  You receive a true sense of danger Scudder faces and the dodgy moral codes everyone lives by.

 

Despite a somewhat far-fetched conclusion, ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ wouldn’t have worked without Neeson’s presence.  He holds the movie together with a performance steeped in weary reality.  Neeson has turned into a reliable mainstay of commercial movies with his newest role cementing this.  He is aided well by his co-stars who embody their sleazy roles with ease.  The cinematography of a pre- 21st Century New York effectively conjures a distant past continually haunting Scudder.

 

In spite of some short-comings, ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ is a generally engaging thriller.  Riding much on Neeson’s coat-tails, hopefully it builds towards further instalments of a frequently intriguing character.

 

Rating out of 10:  7